"I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight. Um, and this is only something that only very recently — we’re talking in the last two weeks — I’ve felt comfortable telling the closest people around me. Exactly that."
And with that, after years of speculation, rumor, questions, guesses, dreams, Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe came out as gay.
And I say, Good for him. Some people were annoyed that he’d spent years denying his sexual orientation, going so far as to write quite plainly in a memoir, ‘I am not gay,’ but we should not judge when people come out, how they come out, or how long it takes. It’s a personal journey that, while it may have the same destination, is a completely different path for each of us.
"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay."
That’s all that need be said. He’s battled the gossip, he’s battled the speculation, he’s battled depression, all of which make coming out more difficult, but one thing he has, that a lot of gay folks don’t have, no matter when they say the words, is support, from family, friends, and, especially, the LGBT community.
"I was concerned about the reaction from my family, my friends. I'm pleased to say that in telling them, and especially my parents, they told me that they love me and they support me. And for young people out there, know that that's usually what the answer is."
I read on Facebook, where some folks called it a brave step — and coming out, again, no matter who you are or when you do it, is a brave step — that others were annoyed that Ian hadn’t been truthful in the past. But again, walk in his shoes, live his life, battle his demons, and then tell me it wasn’t brave.
"What happened was, I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity and a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn't want people to think that I had lied about everything."
Again, it’s done, and you can say “Finally,” or you can simply say, “Welcome out.” What you cannot, or should not, is denigrate him for not coming out sooner. It's his journey and all we should do as a community is be thankful and grateful and welcoming.
And offer up a copy of The Gay Agenda and the Obligatory Coming Out Toaster Oven and the thought that now, finally, Ian Thorpe can take a breath and finally be himself.
And that’s the bravest thing of all.
Welcome out, Ian, welcome out.